This one was a bit mixed for me – for starters it isn’t my usual book fare but I was curious by the blurb so I wanted to give it a go. However the blurb really doesn’t seem to match the books in some areas at all.
For starters Alice really isn’t the friend I wish I had, at no point does she ever come across as the life of the party or a fun person to be around- we never get to see that side of her except for one brief scene at the beginning. We see the drinking and the valium, but none of the exuberant outgoing person I was expecting from the blurb.
In fact the first two thirds were a bit like watching a car crash as Alice slowly self-destructs. It wasn’t pleasant or particularly enjoyable, but it was necessary to reach the point where we meet the real Alice.
However, once we start to get to the real Alice, not the one she hides behind, it’s a fascinating and compelling story. I was just frustrated that it took so long to reach that point. I think that once we do reach this though it almost all becomes worth-while because all the puzzle pieces start to slot together and make sense and we see her become a real whole person again, which I loved. I just wish that it hadn’t taken so long for her to self-destruct and we could have seen more of the recovery process as opposed to more of the car crash.
It was a very interesting style to pick, with both the present day Alice and the younger Alice’s stories being told at the same time. It was a touch confusing at the start as there is no real indication of whose chapter it is going in, but as a pattern and rhythm emerged I found it to be a really engaging way of storytelling to have both stories unravelling and merging together as I progressed. There were a few problems with tenses at some moments, but on the whole the writing is strong, the characters clear and as I said, once we reach the emerging Alice it became a truly engaging and beautiful story.
As a début novel it’s strong, but not entirely my cup of tea, however the strength of the last third of the novel was enough to swing my perspective round and make me curious to read what Ms Marinelli writes next. I would recommend it as a very definite page turner for anyone who likes to escape into another’s life without any fantasy elements. An interesting début that’s well worth a read...more
This book is without a doubt the best book in the Soul Screamers series. This has always been a series that I’ve loved reading, but has never been an ‘I must get the latest book now’ kind of one. Yeah, that just changed after reading this – the next book simply cannot come fast enough.
The biggest thing that struck me was how much Kaylee had matured over the course of the last few books, and really hit home in this book. She started out as a typical teenager, and she has really grown and matured into such an incredibly strong character. I was amazed at how she handled the news of her impending demise, everyone else seemed convinced she should be freaking out, and I loved her monologues about yes it was terrifying and crap, and she really didn’t want it to happen, but it was, so that was that. I wanted to stand up and applaud after each of these.
Whilst every book leaves our intrepid band of supernatural teenagers in terrible danger, this one felt even more terrifying, because after all, how do you cheat death when there are no loopholes?
It was really fascinating to see how each of the other characters dealt with the news of Kaylee’s time limit, and it brought out the best in some, and the worst in others. Particularly in Nash and Tod.
I love, as ever, Rachel’s writing. Her books have always been a pleasure to read, excellently written, with relatable characters and humour by the bucket load. But this has to be one of her best works so far. She tackles subjects like teenage sex and hormonal outbursts with humour, and gravity and it’s exceptionally handled. With some fabulously steamy scenes that had my pulse racing, without taking it too far.
I adore this love triangle that kind of defies the idea of love triangles. Tod has always been at the back of the crowd for Kaylee, he’s been there for her when she’s needed him, he’s stood up for her and protected her, and it has become more and more obvious over the last few books that he cares for her deeply, but he hasn’t done anything about it. He hasn’t told her, or put her under pressure, or made her choose, or been downright obnoxious and irritating as you so often can find with love triangles. He has simply been there for her, and I’ve loved that. I also loved the moments when Kaylee started to realise about his feelings. And I most definitely loved the payoff. If ever a boy was deserving of a happy ending – of getting the girl he loves, of getting his dying wish, it’s Tod. I have loved him from the first book, so to see him take centre stage as the guy on the white charger there to protect Kaylee, after Nash’s irritating whinging, was fantastic. I literally cannot wait for June and the next book to see how this plays out.
So June cannot come fast enough and I cannot recommend this book enough. If you’ve enjoyed this series in the past, you will love this latest instalment, and if you haven’t read any of the Soul Screamer’s series, why on earth not – get to it, they’re fab!...more
I’m going to straight out say that this wasn’t my favourite book in the Soul Screamers series – it was still fantastic, a brilliant example of good writing, engaging characters and a plot that boggles the mind with its creative twists, but it just wasn’t as good for me as some of the others. In fact I’m noticing that the odd numbered books in this series are my favourites, whilst the even numbers don’t quite hit it for me.
I think the biggest problem for me personally is that normally I sympathise/empathise/relate to/all of the above to at least one of the characters in a book – and I suppose I did with Tod, but he played such a minor role in comparison that I don’t think that quite counts.
I became so frustrated with Kaylee for her unbending attitude and ability to make a decision. I became frustrated with Nash on every level for everything. After the events of the last book it’s going to take a huge amount of something to make me see him even close to the way I used to prior to his addiction.
And then there’s Sabine, who for the most part I loved, but some of the things she did just crossed the line beyond even remotely ok that I then became frustrated with her.
Don’t get me wrong, I still loved them, and did feel for them, laugh with them, etc. It was just that a lot of their interactions really frustrated me and I actually didn’t have any side that I was on, I didn’t want any of them to win! I think that in part that was because I could see all the sides to the story – and that is an incredible skill on Ms Vincent’s part. I could see why everyone was frustrated and angry, but at the same time the way they each tried to deal with it rubbed me up completely the wrong way.
A lot of that is explained when all the pieces of the puzzle click into place at the end, but I still struggled with some moments and decisions of the characters.
Of all of them I think I liked Sabine the most, which is weird… But she really does take crossing the line to a whole new level. At the same time I was kind of on Kaylee’s side, except that the prize they were fighting over was a boy that after the events of the last book I kind of felt that both of them deserved better.
Which I suppose brings us round to my real dislike in the book, which was Nash. I adored him in books one and two, but book three completely turned me off him and he didn’t manage to redeem himself at all in this book. I could understand where he was coming from with being alone and Kaylee not being there for him, but at the same time I was on her side as to why she hadn’t been there for him. It felt to me that he had done nothing but look despondent and apologise to her. He hadn’t tried to talk it out or start to build their relationship back up, he just backed off and had late night bedroom sessions with Sabine. It just didn’t sit right with me.
It didn’t feel like he was fighting for his relationship actively, he was passive, and self-involved, and playing the victim. And that Kaylee could even want to take him back made my mind boggle.
But as I said at the start, none of this affected my enjoyment of the book, I still really love this series and thought it was a great instalment, and I continue to love Ms Vincent’s writing. I love that the characters to develop, that they grow and change and make bad decisions as well as good decisions.
I loved the introduction of Sabine, who strangely, as I’ve said, I really kind of liked for all her terrible ways. And I’m glad that all the bad stuff that happened in the previous book wasn’t just swept under the rug – it was messy and involving and completely teenage high school, and I loved seeing how they tried to deal with it all, to patch up and keep going. I love the mythology and that this series deals with supernatural creatures that are rarely given their own books – to have such a diverse and intriguing set of characters is one of my favourite aspects of this series.
So in all, not my favourite in the series but still a fantastic book, and I’m so looking forward to seeing where this goes – and to seeing more of everyone’s favourite Reaper, who remains to this day my favourite character in this series....more
I had heard amazing things about ‘Wonder’ before I started reading it, and they truly didn’t exaggerate.
I was very wary going into the book, after all, you never know with a subject that sometimes requires delicate handling whether the author will handle it or drop it on the floor… hard…
Fortunately R J Palacio tackles it beautifully. The book offers several different viewpoints so that we get to see not only Auggie’s view of himself and the world, but how other people view him to. It also offers us an insight so we see situations from various different angles so what from one person seemed a terribly mean thing to do, would suddenly be seen from a whole new angle.
The different view varied from seeing how Auggie’s sister copes with constantly being pushed to the side in favour of her brother, to how his new friends at school felt about him, to his sister’s boyfriend. It was fascinating and offered a whole new perspective which kept the novel fresh throughout.
Of course the largest sections were from Auggie’s point of view and he was a fascinating narrator. He truly was extraordinary, with his view of the world, of himself, his strength, his kindness and his determination, particularly in the face of some truly horrible taunts, fights and unkindness from those around him.
It was a thought provoking story handled very delicately and I found myself totally enthralled with Auggie’s story. How it feels to be on the inside of a perfectly normal boy who just drew the short straw of the gene pool. He’s not pampered or spoilt, nor is he frustrating, he is an incredibly fresh narrator and I loved sharing his story with him.
It was heart breaking at points to see the cruelty of those around him – not just kids, but adults. There are a series of emails part way through the book that quite literally made my blood boil, and some of the awful things the kids said made me want to reach in and wrap Auggie up in a hug.
My only complaints were that there wasn’t a vast amount of difference between the voices. They all read very much the same, and if I hadn’t been told at the start of each section who was speaking it wouldn’t have been particularly obvious.
It was also, I have to admit a decidedly cheesy ending, but actually, I like happy endings to it didn’t really both me – I know that some people might find it a little too sweet after the trials of the book though.
It does come across as one very decided, white middles class view point of the world, which may be frustrating to some, but because that is the only view point Auggie really has, I didn’t find it too grating.
This truly is a wonderful book – thought provoking, funny, incredibly hard to read at some points, and joyful at others. I would recommend reading it with a box of tissues though…...more
So I read this book on a recommendation because of the romance at the novel’s heart, and I did really enjoy it, but it elicited quite a mixed reaction from me whilst reading.
Let me first say that I did really enjoy the book, it was a really good concept and a great plot with some swoon worthy moments, and some brilliant twists and turns, however whilst really enjoying it, on closer inspection there were quite a few things that also really irritated me.
Let’s start with Lila. She had the potential to be smart, funny and strong – she has this awesome power that gets the story of to a fantastic start, and then it kind of peters out. Literally the first half of the novel is Lila getting increasingly frustrated with her brother, swooning over her life long love Alex, and getting grumpy. That’s it. There’s no action, there is plot development but it’s hidden underneath so many layers of Lila making eyes at Alex and doing pretty much anything to get his attention that it’s virtually non-existent.
Don’t get me wrong, I like romance, I am fully on board with all swooning. But when I learn very little about a character other than she really, really, really really really likes this guy and it’s tragic because he only ever sees her as his best friend’s little sister, and she would literally consider twisting her ankle to get close to him, I do get a little irate.
Yet I kept reading. It was still compelling, still intriguing (partly from wondering when Lila would get her damn act together) and I still wanted to find out what happened.
As I said, half way through suddenly we get action, and it’s this thrilling chase with betrayal and confessions and kisses and it’s really good. I enjoyed finding out more about the psys, and to fill in some of the blanks and the backstory, but again, I kind of felt that some of the twists were a bit predictable. I wanted them to be jaw dropping, fantastic things, but they fell into the usual format.
I’ve now discovered there is going to be a second book, and I’m more excited about that than this one. It felt like by the end of this book we finally got to see a bit of the actual Lila creeping in, and I want to get to know her, not the boy obsessed one. I really want to see where this develops and goes to, because it really is a fantastic premise and it has the potential to be an absolutely stunning series, I just wasn’t too fussed on some of the choices made in this first book.
So to sum up, I loved the premise of the book, and it was intriguing enough to keep me reading, but I really wasn’t all that fussed on the elements of Lila that were emphasised or the complete lack of any action or plot development or any kind in the first half of the book. I do still recommend it, for anyone who likes young adult urban fantasy with the super psychic powers twist, and I’m really excited about the second book....more
I’ve spent a long time after finishing it thinking about what I wanted to say in my review. So much of it has already been said before in the numerous reviews out there that talk about how beautiful, how heartbreaking, how tragic this book is, and I feel like I’m just going to repeat all of that, but here goes.
I loved this book. I loved Hazel. Her strength, her quiet determination to try to just keep going each day, her humour, her realistic outlook – it was pitched absolutely perfectly. She was such an incredible character and was the perfect narrator to take us through. At moments I was laughing out loud. “Congratulations! You’re a woman! NOW DIE.” And then I would be sobbing my heart out because it was so unfair and horrible and downright depressing, and yet Green manages to keep the story as a compelling a beautiful piece of artwork, instead of some morbid look at cancer children.
I adored Augustus, he was such a fantastic character, and the two of them bounced off each other and created some beautifully funny, poignant and touching scenes. They made such a fantastic pair, the humour, the realistic outlook on life, the downright tragic moments. It was written so beautifully
That’s one of the things I love most about Green’s books. His writing is so unbelievably beautiful. I can’t even put into words how stunning it is. I first found it in ‘Looking for Alaska’ and I wondered if that was a one off, or whether this book would speak to me in the same way, and it really really does. It’s so incredibly beautiful, and it was for his writing that I originally picked up this book. Not for the story – I’m more of a fantasy kind of girl – but his prose. Although once I started reading I couldn’t help but fall in love with the story.
At the same time Green has made it very accessible and relatable even to those who aren’t cancer sufferers. I have chronic pain syndrome, something that makes me similarly have good and bad days, try out a plethora of new and exciting medications to ease the pain, and provokes a reaction in friends not unlike the reaction Hazel experiences. Whilst I am in no way comparing my own experiences to those of Hazels, I still found some of her thoughts and sentiments about those things to really strike home in a way that I truly wasn’t expecting from this book. It suddenly made it feel more personal in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. And I was impressed. When I went into the book I almost expected it to be some sort of cloying preaching book about cancer that I, as someone with no experience of it personally or in my family, wouldn’t really connect with. Whereas in reality it was a touching book that brought so much to the table, and allowed me to identify with it in ways that I wouldn’t have expected.
And I cried. God how I cried. It was inevitable and yet utterly heart breaking, and despite the fact that it was a book, and despite the fact that I had only known these characters for a couple of hours, it touched me and provoked emotional responses in me that I didn’t expect to have.
I loved this book. I cannot recommend it enough. It is beautiful, and heart breaking, and took my breath away. And stayed with me long after I turned the last page...more
I was left feeling a bit mixed after reading this book – there were some really great aspects, and some really not so great ones kind of jumbled together. I’m going to start with what peeved me and end on the good notes of what I liked, because I did really like this book, it just had quite a few flaws that I found difficult to get round.
I had several problems with the book that meant that I failed to truly engage with the story. Firstly, the world building. This has so much potential but so much is left unexplained, and instead of making it mysterious and edgy it just left me irritated. All we know is that people live to 200, everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 are dead and were wiped out in the spore wars, and old people are evil. That’s it. There is no explanation, nothing, and I think I would have found the story a lot more convincing if there had actually been some concise explanations. I don’t need everything spelled out, but a little bit would be good. There were just too many plot holes that weren’t even tackled due to the lack of world explanations – for example why on earth are all old people made out to be evil with no backing or explanations? Why are children victimised and herded up? Why aren’t young people allowed to get jobs? None of these things really made sense and I felt a bit cheated by that.
Then we have the love triangle, which felt incredible forced and fake. It feels like it’s obligatory these days for a book to have a love triangle in it. This one had one half that was barely a half and a boy that she had an instantaneous connection with. I wouldn’t have been nearly so peeved if the two boys had served a function other than being a love interest, but that was it. However, by the end of the book it did suddenly all make sense and I stopped being so grumpy about the romance. I won’t explain further than that because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone, but going into it, if you feel peeved by the love triangle, stick with it, there is a very good reason for it.
And then we have our heroine Callie who just seemed to drift through the book. There was no sense of urgency to engage me, no desperation or anything. She just seems to float along without really truly connecting or acting until very late on in the novel.
I think the reason I was so peeved with the above points is because this book had the potential to be an absolutely fantastic book. I mean look at that premise, the idea that you can have someone else rent your body is terrifying, and I don’t think that was really examined properly in the book. Thinking about the idea was enough to give me chills, but they were absent throughout the book, because there wasn’t that ick factor, the horror of it wasn’t thoroughly explored, and only really touched on at the end.
The writing was really good though, Price is definitely going to be an author to watch, I just wasn't as taken with this particular book as I thought Id be.
However, despite the problems I did still really enjoy this book. As I said, it’s a brilliant concept, and parts of it are executed brilliantly. I was really rooting for Callie by the end, and once the plot got going it really went for it. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next, and whether we get any development on the issues I’ve shared above, so when the sequel ‘Enders’ comes out I will be desperate to see how it plays out.
Don’t let my problems put you off reading it though, as I’ve said before, these are just my personal peeves whilst reading, and I’m curious to see how other people react and what they make of the book – so let me know if you agree or disagree!
This book is a good debut into the dystopian genre, and I found it to be a really interesting read. However there were a few issues that marred the experience for me, but ultimately I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the sequel ‘Enders’....more
This book was such a gorgeously haunting story that it’s stayed with me long after I finished reading it.
The writing is haunting and vivid, and creates such an atmospheric piece, similar to the feeling I felt whilst reading ‘The Scorpio Races’ by Maggie Stiefvater. It takes its time, slowly drawing out the tales over the span of several generations, but focusing around the intentions of Misskaella.
It was incredibly well done, because Lanagan takes her time to develop Misskaella into a sympathetic character that you cannot help but feel for, then branch out and show how others have treated her affects her attitude to those around her. It’s a tragic tale of human nature and the ability each person has to hurt others – but in this case, the repercussions when the person on the receiving end has the last laugh.
And just when you start to forget that she was once human and hurt and torn apart by others cruel words towards her, Lanagan twists it back and packs another gut wrenching punch that reminds you just how human and fragile she was at heart.
It’s a mixture of tales all rolled into one, all coming back to focus on the Seal Wives, the tragedy of Rollrock Island and Miskaella’s handiwork at getting her own back. We see the story from several view points; different generations at different times as we are led down the path of destruction with the Rollrock men, the slow, creeping rot that sets into the island, and the exploration of the island as a world of its own, the isolation of the setting as they cut themselves off further from the world.
We see boys grow up and turn into husbands and fall into the same patterns as those before them. We see women treated as objects of desire and ownership rather than people, and the slow rebuilding of a civilisation brought to the brink of destruction by those enchanted by the seal women.
Despite being a quick reader this book took me quite a while to get into and finish – the writing was quite dense and weighty, and despite only being just over three hundred pages long felt like a novel twice the length. That isn’t a criticism or point against it at all, it was just interesting to note how long I spent immersed in the world, and how much I enjoyed it.
I will admit that towards the end I did just want to finish it, because it is such a haunting and melancholy story that I did feel quite morose after several days dipping into the world, and wanted to move onto something lighter. But as I said, it was such a beautiful book that it outweighed any of the negatives.
It was an utterly heart breaking and moving piece of work that completely surprised me. It wasn’t what I expected at all, and yet it turned into one of the best reads so far this year. Moving, atmospheric and poignant – a look at how the actions of one person can shape people’s lives for generations....more
I am a sucker when it comes to a good Robin Hood story, and when I saw Angie’s reviewof ‘Scarlet’ I was absolutely desperate to read it. But then there’s always a worry when it comes to reinterpretations of the Hood legend, that they’ve taken it too far in the wrong direction. Although after watching ‘Robin Hood Men in Tights’ I’m not so sure there is a wrong direction anymore… Anyway, I was a little bit wary going in, but I really shouldn’t have worried, this was one of the best re-tellings I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time.
The plot combines enough of the original legend to make it feel authentic, with just enough new twists and turns for the tale to be truly original as well. And there are a host of familiar faces that make it into a true Robin Hood tale.
I absolutely adore Scarlet. She’s got such a distinctive voice, a no-nonsense attitude and complete undying devotion to Rob and the boys. She’s tough and can take a punch as well as any man, but is softer and admits that just a touch from Robin can render her breathless and speechless. She was the perfect blend of soft and hard, a truly believable and fantastic heroine that I couldn’t help but fall in love with and admire.
You want her to win, to succeed, and root for her even when things seem completely hopeless. Her backstory was fantastic, and threw several shockers that had me gasping aloud throughout the book. She is a beautiful blend of characters from the original legends, but makes it entirely her own.
And the other boys – oh Rob, you are just as dreamy as I always imagined. And John turned out to be quite the charmer as well. It was a smaller band than I imagined, but all the characters were brought to life so vividly that it really didn’t matter. You get to know each of them, their backstories and their personalities in a way that secondary characters can often miss out on.
The writing was gorgeous, Scar’s voice was absolutely perfect, taking you through the tale along with her, and the research involved must have been enormous because it truly felt like I’d been picked up and dumped in the middle of the twelfth century in the middle of Sherwood Forest.
It was real, hard, sometimes impossibly heart breaking, and utterly fabulous. I don’t want to give any more away, because it’s a truly fantastic read.
After finishing I just wanted to go straight back into the world and read it all over again – which considering I was having the same feelings about the 1920s flappers book I read just before Scarlet, made for some pretty interesting dreams…
This book completely swept me away. Definitely a must read for fans of Robin Hood, but anyone who loves a kick ass heroine and a brilliant plot would love this. One of my favourite books of the year so far....more
How have I not read this book before? Ok let me rephrase that – why on earth have I steered clear of these books??
I have a terrible habit of seeing a cover that I’m not fussed on, and hearing the title over and over because everyone’s talking about it, and I can’t seem to get away from it, so I decide to wait and pick them up at a later time. More fool me.
Finally, about three years after most of the hype, I saw the trailer. Youtube it, it’s absolutely awesome. And I suddenly realized I’d made a huge mistake and immediately went out and borrowed a copy off one of my friends. And then I didn’t surface for four hours…
I was hooked from the first page, I didn’t put the book down once from start to finish, just sat and read it straight through. Katniss is such an incredibly real and likeable character. Tough because she has to be, but with a real and honest personality that I couldn’t help but find engaging.
We’re thrown straight into the action, with a lot of backstory about Panem and the Districts, but none of it felt overloaded or too much – Collins sets it up in such a way that I was desperate to know more. I wanted everything and I wanted it now.
The pacing is absolutely spot on. There’s a crushing sense of inevitability that dogs the characters and I was equal parts desperate to find out what happens, and hoping to prolong it so I didn’t have to say goodbye to anyone. But when the goodbye’s came, oh my word they sure packed a punch. Tears. Lots of tears.
I know that there’s supposed to be a love triangle going on between Katniss, Peeta and Gale, but I honestly didn’t feel it. This will be something I talk about more in my reviews of the final two books, because it’s something that comes to the fore in those, but for me there was no contest – particularly in this book. I was for Peeta all the way. For once I was rooting for the good buy – the nice guy who would do anything to protect the girl he loves, even sacrifice himself. Too often I find myself rooting for the bad boy, you know the ones, they usually sport a fair amount of black and do their fair share of bad things as well as good things, but I was completely swept away by Peeta. Guys, I think I have a new fictional crush.
I don’t really want to talk about the plot, because it’s one of those books that I’d hate to ruin for others, just know that it tears you apart and doesn’t let you go and you are in for one hell of a ride once you pick this book up.
I love how much time is taken up with the prep, and the secondary character’s we’re introduced to – Cinna for one was an absolute favourite, but they all stood out in some way or another. Every detail is beautifully crafted into the whole, and the world stood out for me as one of the best constructed I’ve read in a while – with such a level of history and backstory that unravels over the course of the three books.
Even well after finishing reading it, this book has stayed with me. I keep thinking about it and slipping back inside it. Analysing different moments and remembering odd pieces of the games – I have a feeling it won’t be long before I pick it up to read again.
Others have said far more eloquently what I’m attempting to say – that this book is one of the best I have had the pleasure of reading in a while, and the standard of books out there at the moment is insanely high as it is. If you’ve already read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t? Don’t make my mistake, go and pick it up now.
Oh and get excited for the film, that trailer looks pretty epic… ...more
I read Ali Shaw’s début novel ‘The Girl with Glass Feet’ when it first hit the shelves a couple of years ago, and it broke my heart. So when I discovered the other day that he had a new book out, I had to have it. Shaw has a trademark lyrical beauty in his work. He blends seamlessly the real and the magical until the magical seems so normal, so natural in amongst the mundanities of the every day world.
In ‘Glass Feet’ it was a girl who was slowly turning to glass, in ‘The Man Who Rained’ it is, among other things, a man who is made of weather. Instead of a heart beat he has thunder, instead of blood he has air in his veins. But Shaw makes it so realistic, so completely believable that I didn’t for a moment doubt him, or put down the book scoffing that this was ridiculous. It just is. And it was beautiful.
His talent with words makes the whole piece utterly breath-taking to read. Even the most normal descriptions come alive in ways I never could have imagined, and it brings the whole book to life in a vivid array of colour in your mind as you read.
There is always a crushing sense of inevitability that stalks his novels, you know that there is trouble lying in wait – a storm cloud just waiting on the horizon to sweep them away. But it is so carefully constructed, so quiet in its menace as he weaves the rest of the plot together around it, that whilst it made my heart beat faster to know that something would go horribly wrong, it was so beautiful to watch at the same time.
Shaw creates beautifully vivid characters, in incredible places. Thunderstown was a skillfull weaving of beauty and charm with the cruelties of people who are faced with something they cannot comprehend or understand.
And the characters are fantastically woven. A blend of so many different facets, completely believable if not always completely likeable, I was eager to see what would happen to them as they came together.
However there is one thing that I seem to be noticing more and more in the finished copies I’m reading these days. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, punctuation errors. And if there’s one thing guaranteed to peeve me, it’s those. In a proof copy, fair enough, it’s not finished yet, I can gloss over them. But in a finished I just bought you in a bookstore and you have the indecency to not have an apostrophe in one of your chapter titles??? It just makes me a little mad. As I’ve said before, this sort of thing needs to be caught before final copies are sent out, because it just looks sloppy - or hire me as a proofreader because I obviously have magical eyes.
So whilst that did mar the overall feeling after reading, I still loved this novel. Fans of Simon Van Booy’s work, or those who love a lyrical beauty in their novels will adore this latest offering from Shaw. A quiet triumph of storytelling....more
It’s official, there are not enough books about flappers. Although ‘Vixen’ is such an awesome one, I may just keep re-reading it in the absence of any other fab 1920s books. Ever since watching the ‘Vampire Diaries’ episode where there are flashbacks to Chicago in the 1920s I’ve been desperate to read some good books set there, and Random House must have heard my wishes, because what did they send my way last weekend, but the fabulous début by Jillian Larkin and the first book in a brilliant new trilogy.
It was a fantastic book, with a style that reminded me strongly of Gossip Girl (which is no bad thing) and three fresh and distinctive heroines to guide us through the roaring twenties – jazz, booze, boys and speakeasies.
Having three narrators gives a brilliant scope to really explore the different aspects of the elite of Chicago. We have Gloria, straight A student and model ‘good girl’ as she discovers there’s more to life and a whole world out there beyond the four walls of her families mansion and the diamond rock on her engagement finger. I loved watching her try to balance the new dark and rebellious side with the life she already had, and for the most part succeeding – and the thrills and people that came along with it.
Then we have Clara, the bad girl turned good. I absolutely adored Clara she was funny, sassy and had a better idea of the world outside compared to the other two. I loved watching her grow into herself and discover a balance between her wild side and the good girl she was trying to crush down. In fact her story was perhaps the most intriguing as we discovered her past and watched her battle her demons to carve out a new life for herself.
And then we have Lorraine, who I will say I wasn’t all that fussed on. She was incredibly well written, and I found her utterly fascinating, but completely broken. She is the bad girl who has completely fallen onto the wrong side of the tracks – needy, petty and jealous I still felt for her, and she is still redeemable, but she left an unpleasant taste in my mouth every time she fell a little further.
The book explores the constraints of the time, the social dos and don’ts and was utterly fascinating. A brilliant blend of humour, heart wrenching emotion and fabulous characters, I loved it.
The research that must have gone into the book to produce such a vivid and detailed world is utterly mind boggling, but it’s so completely worth it as you are pulled straight into the world and experience every little detail.
I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book of the series and find out what happens next. I fell in love with the characters (yes even Lorraine) and their stories were taken on such complex journeys with such surprising and fantastic conclusions in this book that I’m so excited to find out where Larkin takes us next.
Its’ an exceptionally strong debut from an author to watch out for, and a stunning new series for the rebel flapper girl in all of us....more
This book is a brilliant example of what a difference a cover can make. The cover is usually the first thing I see, it’s the point of contact where thThis book is a brilliant example of what a difference a cover can make. The cover is usually the first thing I see, it’s the point of contact where the book grabs me and says ‘look at me! I’m awesome! You’ll never regret getting me!’ either that or ‘steer clear, you’re being judgemental’. I’m bad, very very bad, I do judge books by their covers. I try not to, but as I said, first point of contact!
U.S. Cover So I first saw this book with the American cover, and I thought ‘hmm, self this looks like a good book, but it is not nabbing my attention enough to get it now, I shall keep browsing.’ Until the other day, the fabulous Harriett over at Random House Children’s Books sent me a copy with the UK cover, and before I even realised it was the same book I was shrieking with joy and saying ‘self, this cover! This book is going to be fabulous! Look at that tag line! Look at the gone with the wind southern belle aspect, and the pasty brooding guy! And the lamps! And, hey look! Are those zombies staggering around in the background?! Dear god this is fantastic!’ And I promptly started reading it. Just like that, perception changed, the book became an immediate I must read this now. And it was such a good read! I love it when an author has a sense of humour, and is genuinely just having fun and this comes across throughout the book.
There are moments of genius and moments of sheer ridiculous, and some sharp and witty banter that had me giggling aloud. The sense of fun and amusement on the part of the author comes across so strongly through reading it that it made it an even more enjoyable read for me. Just look at the series title – ‘Gone with the Respiration’ that alone was enough to make me laugh out lout and demand more.
It had a similar feel to some of Gail Carriger’s work, the same humour, the same elegant wit, and parasols, don’t forget the parasols. But because it’s set in the future there was a lot more room to manoeuvre and play with the language and setting. I was a bit hesitant to start with, but actually this worked out incredible well. Take the parasols that have a gas lamp on the top to indicate whether a woman can be dated, is married, or is more interested in other women – genius.
I loved the characters. Nora was a breath of fresh air – she actually freaks when confronted with undead monsters. It takes her a long time to start to trust and be ok with the idea, and when she first emerges from behind her safely locked door, the first thing she demands is guns. I love her for this so much you wouldn’t believe. But as well as being smart and sassy and a little bit pouty at times, she’s incredibly loyal and fights for those she cares about which made her an all round fabulous heroine.
And Bram, oh baby I do not normally like zombie’s but you have to be the most gentlemanly and lovely of them all. And very little decomposing going on, which is always a bonus… I’ll talk a bit more about the romance in a moment, but suffice to say he was intelligent, sharp, gentle and again, fiercely protective (without any stalker aspects, which is always a bonus.)
The host of secondary characters were on the whole pretty awesome. A little more could have gone into making Bram’s crew more distinguishable earlier on, I found myself a bit confused at points who was who, but that does sort itself out part way through.
Even the characters who only got a bit of main time were really well written and believable, for the most part very funny, and a fantastic array of the different facets of society both alive and dead, in this whole new world.
And Pam. Oh boy did she get awesome. I am so excited to see more of the Pam that emerges when everything falls apart. She was actually more interesting than Nora at points, just because of the strength and determination she showed when it came to protecting those she loved, and even those she barely knew that she wanted to help.
Let’s talk about romance – more specifically zombie romance. I’m not a fan. The idea of someone shambling along with bits decomposing and dropping off who would quite like to eat your braaaainssss, and a live human having a romance has filled me with a slightly shuddery feeling in the past, so I’ve steered well clear of zombie romances until last year. Then I read ‘Warm Bodies’ by Isaac Marrion, and my perception changed. All of a sudden it didn’t have to be this slightly disturbing zombie half eating human weird romance. It could be based on more than making out (shock, horror) and be more about the connection between two individuals.
This was also the case with Bram and Nora, and I liked the two of them together, how their relationship and friendship developed. And Ms Habel neatly sidesteps the ick factor by creating a zombie boy who isn’t decomposing – not in the same way. All of a sudden we have a yummy boy (yes he’s still yummy, despite the eyes) who just happens to be dead. He’s still him, he still has a sense of humour and can fight and sing as good as the living boys – actually he seems to have a better moral code than most of the rest of the living boys. And at that stage, where he isn’t decomposing and shambling around screaming brains, where he is still in tact, merely dead, we have the same scenario as most of the human girl with a dead vampire boy books out there – and no one seems to have a problem with the ick factor there. What I am trying to say (albeit not particularly eloquently) is that the romance, particularly the zombie un-dead element should not be something that makes you judge this book before even fully reading it.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses though, I did have a couple of problems with the book which prevented me from giving it the full five star love. Firstly, the number of point of views. There were five. Now I would have been happy with just Bram and Nora, I think their story was fascinating enough just on its own, with the exterior elements being fed in through them. However then Pamela’s story line got really epic and we wouldn’t have seen that without her point of view, so I was ok with that one too. Wolfe’s and Dr Dearly’s were a bit much though. I didn’t find them as compelling, and I just wanted to skip back to the action. I felt that the things that were revealed through those point of view’s (actually I don’t think anything much was revealed through Wolfe’s) could have been fed into the story in other ways, cutting down the number of characters and points of view which made my head reel a little bit at times.
The other thing was the sheer volume. Don’t get me wrong, I love long books, there’s a lot more scope in them and a lot more can be included, but in some cases in this book I felt like there was just a bit too much. I realise that there was a vast amount of information to be covered throughout the book – there was so much back story and information to get the reader up to speed with the world, but it felt like some of that could have been cut down or cut out. Some of the situations were given time to amble along which meant that the road to epic showdown was a long one, and meant that I put the book down a lot just to have a break even though I was enjoying it so much.
So it was still brilliant, I still loved it, I will still look forward to the sequel with baited breath, but there were a few flaws that made it not quite so dazzlingly brilliant as it could have been. (Although if I did half stars this would be a 4.5 instead of a four.) However if you like Steampunk, humour and an incredibly brilliant plot then this is an absolute must read....more
Oh my god you guys, I loved this book. I’d heard really good things about it, and then I read Angie’s review (and regular readers know that it only takes Angie saying she loved a book and I’ve bought it off Amazon before I’ve finished the review) and I was sold.
Set over twenty four hours, it’s the perfect combination of humour, grief, joy, and squishy cute moments. I’m all about the squishy cute moments.
I loved that this wasn’t just a romance though. It looks equally at Hadley, her family and the break-up of her family unit leading up to this point – the night before her father’s re-marriage.
It was such an honest look at the breakdown of relationships, as well as the forming of them, that for once I didn’t get grumpy over a portrayal of the breakdown. I actually empathised with every character, and found it fascinating as we were allowed deeper insights into Hadley’s life both before and after.
That said, I really loved the squishy moments… Oliver was such a genuinely nice, refreshingly human boy. There was no insta-love. There was attraction, sure, by the bucket load, but I didn’t ever feel like this spark was being pushed or rushed or rammed repeatedly into a brick wall. The reader almost falls for Oliver along with Hadley, we laugh, we cry, we cheer, and are so swept up in this beautiful tale that’s full of endings and beginnings and false starts. It was so realistic, so full of life without being cloying or false.
I don’t want to ruin it, although I could quite happily chatter on about it for ages. I just want to say how brilliantly written it was. How much of a breah of fresh air, and how carried away by their story. I loved Hadley, she’s so likeable, so friendly despite the grumps attached to the circumstance. I loved the banter between her and Oliver, and the fact that he was so deliciously imperfect. Gotta hate those flawless boys.
I loved the twists and the turns, and the fabulous happenstances that so often lead to brilliant things in life. But most of all I loved the interweaving of the family relationships and drama into this beautiful romance. Everything was pitched perfectly, and I fell in love with it.
There was one glaring error which gave me a mild case of the grumps, which is that the American custom is for the bridesmaid’s to precede the bride down the aisle, whereas the English custom is for them to follow the bride. So why, in an English wedding, where the bride is English, are American customs being employed? You can argue it any which way about the bride choosing to be different, but the fact remains that in an otherwise flawless book, I was suddenly (and frustratingly) jolted out of it with something as trivial as that.
However, it was ultimately such a small thing that it hasn’t affected my overall rating, because really you guys, this book? Awesomeness in a small and brilliantly written package. It’s stayed with me long after reading – I keep going back and thinking about different moments, and re-reading passages. And yeah ok, we’re only half way through the month, but I think I might have just read my book of the month… Any other book I read this month is going to have a lot to beat....more
I absolutely loved Zoe Marriott’s latest book ‘Shadows on the Moon’ so I was desperate to get my hands on everything else she’s written to fill in the time between now and ‘Frostfire’ coming out later this year. However ‘Daughter of the Flames’ didn’t quite hit the mark with me in the same way as Marriott’s other two books.
It was a fantastic premise, with a brilliant heroine at its heart, I just felt as though some parts were a little underdeveloped. I would have quite happily read twice its length just to see more of the development between Zira and Sorin. I loved their hesitancy and awkwardness and the fact that this relationship developed out of a need to save their people, not out of anything else, but we skipped over so much between them that I felt like I never fully bought their relationship.
I wanted to see more of that development, because after a point what romance and tension there was between them fizzles out, and becomes almost unimportant to the story, yet it’s still supposed to be a key element. Another aspect of the romance that I didn’t buy was that once again we are given a paragraph in which the heroine suddenly realises she’s in love with the hero, and I want, for once, to be able to see that relationship build instead of being told about it.
As I said, Zira was a fantastic heroine, strong, independent, and driven by a need to protect her people. But again, we had the internal conflict of who was she really, and I wanted more of that, more development, more resolution. Sorin again, I felt was a little under developed, but what I saw I absolutely loved. He wasn’t your stereotypical male hero, but I didn’t feel like we really got to see that, or see his developing feelings for Zira.
I loved the world building, Marriott really is a master of fantasy, and really creates a world you can practically smell and taste. I thought the religious elements were well developed and that overall the plot was exceptionally well done.
I love villains who have something more about them – some backstory or twist that makes it all that much more exciting and intriguing, and we definitely had that here.
In fact everything came together to make a really, really good book, as I said at the start it just felt like some aspects were rushed or under developed. I loved Marriott’s other books ‘The Swan Kingdom’ and ‘Shadows on the Moon’, and I think that her writing has developed hugely in the time between ‘Daughter of the Flames’ and ‘Shadows on the Moon’ and I cannot wait to see how ‘Frostfire’ turns out.
So all in all, a very good book, but not Marriott’s strongest, but still a very good fantasy read....more